Pallet Rack Assembly & Maintenance Information

A pallet rack system from Material Flow

Assembly: Pallet storage racks should be assembled only by trained personnel. They should be experienced with rack assembly. Improper rack assembly can cause poor performance of the rack system as well as pose a safety hazard to personnel and your facility.

If you are unfamiliar with rack assembly you should contact Material Flow & Conveyor Systems at 1-800-338-1832 or someone in your area that is properly trained.

Installing basic pallet rack is one thing but installation becomes much more critical when installing a drive-in-rack job, multi-level pick system, push back rack, pallet flow rack or a roller rack system.  All of these systems require a different level of training.

It is important that the rack structure be installed in a plumb level and square condition. Since no floors are perfectly flat, code is: 1/8″ in ten feet, shimming of the rack is frequently required. A vertical tolerance of 1/8″ every 4 feet is generally acceptable.

Nut and bolt connections should be tightened to a snug and secure condition. Sixty foot pounds is typical for a 1/2″ diamter grade 5 bolt. You do not want to tighten the nuts and bolts so that you crush the components.

It is important that safety locks use fully engaged through the beam connectors and upright column connector holes.  Safety locks help prevent accidental dislodgement of the load beams. If the safety locks do not engage chances are teh beam studs are not fully seated in the bottom of the teardrop hole on the face of the upright column.

Every foot plate of each rack frame must be anchored to an adequate concrete floor. The normal foot plate is 5″ x 7″ x 3/8″ thick with two 9/16″ holes. The lag bolts should be 1/2″ diameter x 5 1/2″ long. Embedment in the concrete should be at least 3 1/2″ deep. Foot plates and lenght of lag bolts vary from area to area depending on the building code that is used and the service zone that you are in. An ideal situation is a 6″ thick floor reinforced with a 3000 PSI rating. The lag bolts would be (2) 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ long per foot plate or four on each per frame.

Do not install racks outdoors unless specifically designed by Material Flow or someone like them. Outdoor application require careful thought to wind loads, snow loads marshy conditions and ground compaction. these factrors are not normally considered in a rack design.

Be careful when intermingling new and existing parts. Even components made by the same company can vary in design.

Installation of capacity plates signs is highly recommended. Never climb on racks, during or after assembly. They are not designed for climbing on.

Allow for adequate aisle spacing. Mistakes are made all the time. Who takes responisbility between the lift equipment and the storage system? Be careful here, it’s a good way to get into trouble. Many factors are involved in determining the right aisle spacing.

1. The fire department and its codes are playing a larger role all the time. Size row spacers accordingly from those conversations.

2. The lift equipment you have or are going to buy play a large role. Many lift truck salespeople are only interested in the truck, not the storage system. Never buy a lift truck or picking system until the rack structure is designed and finalized.

3. Pedistrian traffic is also a a high consideration. People and lift equipment don’t mix.

4. The experience of your lift truck drivers . If unexperienced add 12″ to the aisle spacing.

5. Pallet Overhang: All pallets should overhang the load by beams by 3″ front and rear which cuts down the aisle by 6″.

It is important to maintain adequate clearance between and around loads. A general guidline is 3″ to 5″ between upright frames and the outside edge of the pallet loads. 6″ to 8″ between pallet loads and 4″ to 6″ between the top of the pallet load and the load beam above.

The easiest way to cut down or prevent rack damage is to keep the lift truck away from teh racks, in other words give the racks some help.  Some good  suggestions are:

A. Install Column Protectors
B. Install Guard Rail at funnel aisles and at the end of rows.
C. Use a heavy bottom and or a double backer column on the frame.
D. If you have a rack system that the lift equipment does not enter then put a 4″ x 4″  angle on the floor out aways from the aisle side upright. This works well for Pallet Flow Rack Systems, Push Back Systems, Roller Rack Systems and Pick Modules.

If you have or are going to purchase a drive in system then rack protection is a must, not an option. Floor rails, extra strutting, apex column guards are also a must.

Use only pallets of the best qualit, broken boards, portruding nails and the like can cause palletized loads to fall from racks. Pallets which have thin underboards can cause you all kinds of problems.

Perform regular inspection of your rack system. Make sure anchor nuts are tight and other nuts and bolts are secure. Safety locks and clips if bent or missing should be replaced. Check to see if racks are still plumb and level. Look for dents, kinks, or damaged components. Have you changed any pallet loads with higher weights? If so make the adjustments.

Most rack failures are caused by operator error. Train the operators and maintain equipment. The most important factor is minimizing actual contact between the handling equipment and the racks. How this is handled determines the longevity of your rack system. Educate the lift truck drivers and other personnel to avoid “impact or shock loading” (dropping loads on to the racks). Remember load beams are rated in pairs and by the load being distributed on the storage loads. If someone loads a point load on the beams the capacity of those beams drops a lot.

Other factors to keep in mind that help in overall performance:

A. Aisle Lighting
B. Good house keeping, clean floors.
C. Signage showing capacities.
D. No over loading of the system.
E. Protection for the lift truck operator.

If you have any questions call Material Flow at 1-800-338-1382.